More bad news for DVD copying

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RealDVD isn’t the only DVD copying software that was just crushed by the courts.

Kaleidescape, which allows users to copy DVDs to its hard drive and view them through an on-board interface, was ruled illegal by an appeals court today, following an earlier preliminary injunction placed on RealDVD, CNet reports.

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The two cases are progressing separately through the courts, but the software at the center of both cases is similar. Kaleidescape and RealDVD allow users to copy and store digital versions of their movie libraries on a hard drive. The makers of both programs argue that the Content Scramble System, put forth by the DVD Copy Control Association, doesn’t explicitly forbid copying, or designing a DVD-copying feature.

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A judge sided with Kaleidescape two years ago, but a California appeals court overturned the decision. CNet says the two court decisions effectively make it illegal to build DVD copying software, even though users are allowed by law to back up their work onto a computer.

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Fittingly, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has chimed in to decry Hollywood movie studios, with attorney Fred von Lohmann saying that “it’s very dangerous to innovate without asking the studios’ permission first.” What’s really infuriating is that Kaleidescape — which I’d never heard of previously — actually sounds pretty cool. You copy DVDs onto its hard drive, and it gives you a slick interface for watching those movies on demand at any time.

The underlying problem is that the studios themselves should be the ones innovating. It’s similar to what the music industry went through, in that labels hampered new technologies with lawsuits instead of providing those technologies themselves or working with a companies that can. We all know that piracy is unstoppable. The studios need to stop their crusade, ditch the cheap gimmickry and start working with technologies that are actually useful to the consumer.

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